If you’ve ever had them, you know exactly why you might want to prevent kidney stones. Passing them can be excruciating, and some require medication or surgery to eliminate. Worse, most people who’ve had kidney stones will get them again within the next decade.
A new guideline published this week in Annals of Internal Medicine has advice about preventing kidney stones from the American College of Physicians. Much of the advice boils down to common sense–up your fluids, for example–and general healthy practice. But it never hurts to get a review, whether you’ve had kidney stones and want to avoid a recurrence or you’ve never had them and hope to keep it that way.
Here are four medication-free ways to prevent kidney stones.
Drink Your Water
In the new guideline, the doctors advise aiming for two litres (about 68 ounces) of urine output per day as a measure to prevent kidney stones. That means getting in those eight to ten glasses of water per day, though other fluids–such as those in foods–count as well. One study found that subjects who managed that two-litre daily output were less likely to have a recurrence of kidney stones than those who didn’t up fluid intake.
Get Enough Calcium
It may be surprising considering that kidney stones are formed in part by calcium, but a study published in Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology found that calcium-rich foods like low-fat yogurt can help prevent kidney stones. It’s believed that the calcium we ingest binds to oxalate, a digestive waste product, which helps them crystallize and exit the body before they get the chance to form into stones. It’s best to get the calcium you need from your food, but if you need a supplement to hit your target try taking it with meals.
Cut Out Soda
The American College of Physicians cited a study which found that subjects who previously had kidney stones and agreed to cut out soda consumption reduced their risk of a recurrence by about 15 percent. It’s not know if there’s a direct connection between soda and kidney stones, but some experts think the phosphoric acid found in many sodas acidifies urine, and acidic urine is conductive to the formation of stones.
Eat Those Fruits and Vegetables
A study from 2010 found that a diet low in dairy and high in fruits and vegetables could prevent kidney stones. Researchers found that study subjects who followed a diet mostly closely resembling the DASH diet recommended for lowering blood pressure–that is, a diet high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and legumes–were significantly less likely to develop kidney stones. One more reason to eat your produce!
Photo by Rick Ligthelm